The seals were having a people-spotting Away Day today: I was bagged four and possibly five times on my wanderings along the shore today. At the time, I thought they were grey seals (Roman noses, you know), but checking on the internet it looks as if the one I photographed was a common seal (V-shaped nostrils). Perhaps both species were out and about. At one time, in Grutness Voe, two seals together were checking out the human population, but they ducked as soon as I got them in the viewfinder.
I finished my walk to Ness of Burgi fort today as it was dry and there was hardly any wind. The sea was absolutely calm, and the waves were slopping in and out lazily; probably exhausted after their exertions of the previous month. The geo on the Ness is completely pacific; last time I was here, I was faced with a wall of water barrelling in from Greenland. The rocks which looked so forbidding last time are completely dry, and the path to the end of the Ness is no problem at all although I was very grateful for the reassuring chain “handrail”.
According to the information board on the Ness, the fort (or blockhouse) is unusual in being square, rather than round. This leads to speculation about its’ purpose, and raises the possibility of that good old archaeologists’ standby – Ritual. Personally I suspect a radical Pictish architect trying to convince the rest that round was just too passé, and that square was the coming design must-have. They weren’t convinced: “Och away with you, stick it on the end of the ness over there and have done with it” “Alright then, I will, so.” And he did.
And we can stand on the narrow neck of land, looking at an ancient blockhouse, the ruins of World War 2 fortifications and the modern radar installations around the airport, and reflect upon the passing of time. The Ozymandias moment.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.